DNR unveils plan for Little Presque Isle

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today issued its final decision on non-motorized trails designations at Little Presque Isle, a popular recreation site located a few miles northwest of Marquette in Marquette County.A wintry view of Harlow Creek as it gurgles out of Harlow Lake at the Little Presque Isle tract in Marquette County.

Over the next few weeks, DNR staff will be finalizing a timeline for work on trails and signing expected to begin this spring.

“We are pleased to announce these new trails designations, which will help protect valuable natural resources and provide greater recreational opportunities at Little Presque Isle,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “These designations are the result of several months of work by DNR staff and consultation and input from user groups and the general public.”

A total of 17.2 miles of mountain bike trail will be designated for the non-winter biking season. In addition, 10.7 miles of winter fat tire bike route will be designated for riding from Dec. 1 to May 1.

“The winter fat tire biking routes will be in effect beginning next winter,” Pepin said. “Those routes will provide access to the Lake Superior shoreline and provide a looped riding experience.”

Through a previous public process during the 1990s, 19 miles of hiking trails were approved for Little Presque Isle.

A map shows the winter fat tire bike routes designated at Little Presque Isle.In May 2015, the Friends of Harlow submitted a trails proposal to the DNR, seeking designation of 19.7 miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails at Little Presque Isle.

However, with hiking already a permitted use at Little Presque Isle, the proposal was evaluated for designating mountain biking use on the existing hiking trail, as well as some new trails, which were created informally by the public.

For several months, a core team of field professionals from the DNR’s parks, wildlife and forest resources divisions compiled information and evaluated on-the-ground conditions along the proposed trails at Little Presque Isle.

In September, the DNR held an open house in Marquette Township where an initial plan was unveiled. Written comments from the public were solicited at the open house and afterward for 30 days.

More than 100 comments were submitted and reviewed by the DNR core team as part of the review process.

“The comments we received were very helpful to our team,” Pepin said. “We made some changes to our initial recommendations based on that important input from the public.”

The new trail designations will govern non-motorized mountain biking and fat-tire winter biking at Little Presque Isle.

During the trails review process, several groups expressed an interest in partnering with the DNR on additional signing for the area and trail development and maintenance.

“The core group thinks these are worthy endeavors, in addition to the existing partnerships established with the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter and the Friends of Harlow,” Pepin said.